Are Congressional Leaders and the White House “Bungee-Jumping” Right Off the Fiscal Cliff?

A.J. ‘Nino’ Amato, President and Executive Director of the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups (CWAG), provides his agency’s perspective on the on-going budget debates in Washington D.C.

QUESTION:  What financial impact will these federal “sequestration budget cuts” have on all of us… and what can we all do about advocating for sound fiscal management and tax reform policies coming out of Washington D.C.?

Not only will these cuts slow down the economic recovery from the Great Recession (caused by the de-regulation of Wall Street and eight years of deficit spending under the George W. Bush administration); the federal sequestration budget cuts will negatively impact consumers’ discretionary spending, decrease local, state and federal governmental services we all rely on; and substantially increase the cost of health care to those who are in need of patient centered care the most – our children and our elderly.

QUESTION:  So… now what happens?

Congress reached agreement on a Continuing Resolution funding government through the end of the Federal Fiscal Year (September 30, 2013). This CR, however, incorporates the budget cuts called for under sequestration at least through the end of the fiscal year. Given the lack of bi-partisan leadership in Congress, which is desperately needed to fix the sequestration budget cuts, it is very unlikely sequestration cuts will generate enough heat to create a deal which includes raising additional tax revenues.

This means the current ‘gridlock status quo’ in Washington D.C. will continue, at least until the next fiscal faceoff, when the debt limit has to be raised again this summer.

QUESTION:  What can we, as community advocates, do to unlock the ‘status quo gridlock’ in Washington, so we can prevent the negative consequences of the sequestration budget cuts and/or another downgrade of U.S. Treasury bonds from Moody’s & Poor’s?

The Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups (CWAG) supports a three-part agenda for protecting federal and state programs that help the people we serve in our communities every day.

With the adoption of CWAG’s 2012-14 State Legislative and U.S. Congressional Action Agenda from last summer, over 100,000 CWAG members believe the best way to protect our community programs and services for all of our Wisconsin citizens is to keep the political pressure on every member of Congress and on the White House by supporting the following three-part agenda:

First, new revenue must be part of any additional debt reduction budget strategy.

Second, budget savings must not be tilted in favor of military spending and against domestic needs or tax breaks to anyone making more than $175,000 annually.

Third, any savings that are obtained from the federal health care program (Affordable Care Act) should come from reducing overpayments to drug companies, insurers and providers, while improving public health outcomes and not by cutting vital programs and services that benefit our children, families and the elderly.

If you agree with this three-part agenda, we would like to encourage you, your friends, neighbors and family members to immediately contact your member of Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation, along with U.S. Senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin, and ask them to support this agenda. With enough voices speaking out all over America and with the vast majority of public opinion on our side, we will be able to protect those vital community programs and services which benefit our nation’s children, families and our elderly.

All you have to do now is contact your U.S. Congressional Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives and both of Wisconsin’s U.S. Senators listed below.

Wisconsin Congressional Delegation & Contact Phone Number:
District 1: Paul Ryan – 888-909-RYAN (7926)
District 2: Mark Pocan – 608-258-9800
District 3: Ron Kind – 888-442-8040
District 4: Gwen Moore – 414-297-1140
District 5: Jim Sensenbrenner – 262-784-1111 (or) 800-242-1119
District 6: Tom Petri – 920-231-6333 (or) 920-922-1180
District 7: Sean Duffy – 715-298-9344 (or) 715-392-3984
District 8: Reid Ribble – 920-380-0061 (or) 920-471-1950
U.S. Senator Ron Johnson – 920-230-7250 (or) 414-276-7282
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin – 800-247-5645

“The question shall arise, and arise in your day, which shall rule – wealth or man; which shall lead – money or intellect; who shall fill the public stations – educated and patriotic free men and women or corporate capitol?”
Justice Edward Ryan, 1873

Feel free to contact me with your thoughts and/or questions.

Nino Amato
President & Executive Director
Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups
2850 Dairy Drive, Suite #100
Madison, Wisconsin 53718
608-514-3317 cell

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